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Friday, July 12, 2013

The Scar Solution



Scars are like tattoos but with better stories. Have you ever heard that quote? It’s so true. Scars are the result of a change to the skin as it heals from a wound. Scars can result from just about any type of wound, from abrasions to incisions. (For more info on the types of wounds, read my blog post here.) This blog post will give you some basic info on scars, as well as how to prevent them or make them less noticeable.

What is a scar?
Scar tissue is comprised of collagen, which is the same tissue content as normal skin. What makes it look different than the skin around it is that collagen fibers in scar tissue will form a different pattern. Where normal collagen has a woven pattern, scar tissue exhibits a “cross-stitch” type of pattern.

Scar tissue is weaker than normal skin tissue. It is more susceptible to damage caused by the sun’s ultraviolet rays, and sweat glands and hair follicles do not grow back after the wound heals.

Are there different types of scars?
Yes. While all scars are composed of the same type of tissue as the once-healthy skin they occupy, not all scars are created equal.
  • Hypertrophic scars are a result of the body producing too much collagen. They present as red bumps on the skin on the scarred area. They typically take shape a month or two after the wound heals.
  • Keloids are a type of hypertrophic scar. They also present as red bumps on the skin, but can grow beyond the original wound site and do not go away over time. Keloids are most common in people with darker skin. While they are often the result of a wound, some people do form them spontaneously. It is important to note that keloids are not dangerous, although they are a cosmetic issue for some people.
  • Atrophic scars make the skin appear sunken. They are generally the result of losing fat or muscle in one area, causing the skin to sink a little. Acne scarring or surgical scars are generally atrophic.
  • Stretch marks are a result of the skin stretching rapidly and for prolonged periods of time. Often caused by quick weight gain or loss, growth spurts or pregnancy, stretch marks are also more of a cosmetic issue than a medical concern. For more information on preventing stretch marks, read my blog post here. 

Can I prevent scars?
Not really. Not all wounds will form scars. For example, a simple knee scrape or a scratch will generally not cause enough damage to form scar tissue. A deeper wound will form scar tissue. A general rule of thumb is that the longer it takes your skin to heal, the more likely you are to develop a scar. If you want to prevent a scar, prevent any injury or wound on your skin.

Can I treat a scar or make it less noticeable?
Absolutely. There are a variety of treatments available for scars, some more effective than others. It’s important to note that no treatment will result in complete restoration of your healthy skin, but there are several options for reducing the scar’s appearance. Some options include:
  • Over-the-counter treatments – Creams like Mederma often advertise their ability to reduce the appearance of scars. To be honest, it isn’t going to speed up the process a whole lot, if at all. Most scars will become less noticeable over time anyway, particularly things like stretch marks. If you don’t want to break out the big guns and visit a dermatologist, you should consider waiting before trying anything from the drugstore.
  • Collagen induction therapy – Often referred to as “skin needling,” this procedure is performed by a doctor and is meant to introduce normal collagen into the scarred area.
  • Exfoliation, chemical peels or dermabrasion – Removing the scarred layer of skin can often result in a lighter appearance for a scar. Traditional at-home exfoliation is probably not enough, depending on the depth and size of the scar. I recommend visiting a trusted dermatologist to discuss whether a chemical peel or dermabrasion procedure can help you.
  • Fillers – Like collagen induction, fillers will introduce normal collagen into an atrophic scar, helping raise them to the level of surrounding healthy skin. You can read my post on fillers here.  It’s important to note that fillers are not permanent, so if this is your chosen solution you may need to have the procedure done every few months to maintain your desired results.
  • Laser treatments – Different types of laser treatments are available for all types of scars. You’ll need to meet with a dermatologist to understand your options and which treatment, if any, is right for your scars. Like chemical peels or dermabrasion, most lasers work by burning or removing the most scarred layer of skin to reduce the appearance of a scar.

Have any more questions about scarring? Leave them in the comments and I’ll try to help if I can. Additionally, if you’d like to make an appointment at Advanced Dermatology to discuss your treatment options, click here.

10 comments:

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  2. The keloids symptoms might include: a localized part that is flesh-colored, red or pink in color. A lumpy or ridged zone of skin that's frequently high. A part that remains to grow bigger with scar tissue over time.

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  3. Certain Keloids herbal remedies have been originate to be effective in curing keloids. Applying apple cider vinegar on the scar repeatedly, four to five times daily, could support to decrease the scar and cure irritation. Crushed garlic or garlic oil might support to heal keloids. Keloid can be recovered by applying tea tree oil on the scar.

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